Read an Excerpt
This is not a how-to book. It offers nary a rule, formula, nor recipe that will allow you to turn out a best-selling novel or a fabulous, million-dollar screenplay. Just as well. In the end, most million-dollar screenplays turn out to be three-million- dollar screenplays, once the inevitable rewriting frenzy begins and other hands are called in to rescue the formerly fabulous million-dollar screenplay.
It is not that handy-dandy kind of book and that is just as well. Never before have so many of the smugly expert advised so many of the seemingly inexpert on how to write successfully and on how to become rich and anonymous (screen and television writers can reap sizeable financial rewards, but they rarely get anything like famous). The pages that lie ahead provide far more valuable insights and practical tools for the working and/ or would-be writer. Instead of a how-to, what Dennis Palumbo has written is a how-come book.
A veteran of the writing wars himself, Palumbo brings fresh insight into the whys and wherefores of the numerous dilemmas each writer faces, or, at times, refuses to admit. He encourages the wanna-bes and the already-ares to confront their concerns, to recognize what lies at the heart of them, to ultimately turn their demons into constructive, liberating collaborators.
The dreaded writer's block? Dennis Palumbo's take on the subject is as novel as it has proved successful for a good number of those who have had the good sense to seek his counseling. What he offers is not a one-size-fits-all cure, but rather an understanding of the sort of writer's speed bump that can sometimesseem the size of a mountain. By leading the sufferer to the underlying truth of his or her particular form of this creative cramp, Palumbo lays the groundwork for a way not around the problem, but one that goes right straight through it.
Procrastination? Doubt? Fear of failure? Loneliness? You name it; Palumbo's been there, done thosein his own writing career and in his artful advice to others. (Even in the act of writing this brief curtain-raiser, I have (1) procrastinated finishing it until the very last second of my deadline, (2) doubted that I was the best choice for this assignment, (3) been dreading how awful it would be to fail, not writing terribly well about this terribly well-written book, and (4) thought how lonely it was todayas it is every working dayto sit down in my solitary room without one person there to say "good morning" to me.)
For years, I was convinced that I could not write alone, that I needed a partner or to work as a member of a staff, surrounded by multiple partners. I had no faith in my ability to produce material on my own. What this wise, accessible volume makes crystal clear is that no one writes alone, that our superficial appearance merely represents the outer limits of the complex, teeming population that resides in each of us: the brave, the fearful, the confident, the unsurethe braggart worrier who sits not beside but within anyone with the temerity to pan for the gold that lies hidden in the blank page or the monitor.
Early on, Palumbo promotes the concept of the Buddy System, the idea that every writer needs someone who has gone through what you're going through; someone who is happy to serve as an ear, a shoulder, a kindred spirit. Someone who gets it: the work you're doing, the town or medium in which or for whom you're doing it, someone who has been to the same meetings, been given the same notes by executives, stars, directors, editors, whoever (probably word for word the very same notes you were given by someone else about a totally different piece of work). Most importantly, you need to get someone who gets you. Dennis Palumbo's Writing from the Inside Out, with Dennis serving as a thoroughly knowledgeable, compassionate companion, makes him not only a useful friend but one who is user-friendly as well. He is the buddy every writer dreams about that is, if writer's block isn't keeping you up all night.